We all know that exercise is important to our overall health. Many times in an effort to get the most exercise in a short period of time, we overlook the importance of stretching before a workout. This includes resistance training and aerobics. Instead of warming up the muscles and giving them the opportunity to stretch before exercising, we compromise our overall fitness program by neglecting the importance of overall flexibility.
Flexibility is a vital element in a healthy fitness program. Keeping the muscles flexible protects against injury and increases your strength and ability. That’s why stretching exercises should be a regular part of your workout routine. Aim for 10 minutes of stretching before and after your activity.
Remember to stretch both your upper body and lower body muscles. Some upper body stretches include raising the arms above the head and slowly lowering them back to the sides of the body. Repeat for eight times.
Bend at the waist and stretch your upper body forward, straighten to a standing position and repeat eight times. Stand and stretch one arm above your head while resting the other hand on your shoulder. Reverse your arms and repeat eight times.
Sit on an exercise mat and stretch out your legs. Bend forward and try to touch your toes. Now spread your legs and stretch forward bringing both arms slowly down one leg to touch your toes. Reverse to the other leg.
Stand and lunge forward slightly, reverse sides and stretch the opposite leg. Slowly lower your body to a squatting position and slowly straighten to stand. Your muscles should begin to feel warm without too much exertion. This is really beneficial as you begin exercising.
Good flexibility is important to our health and fitness. Not only does it help with any exercise or activity it’s especially important for our overall health as we age. When joints become stiff from age and deterioration our muscles play a major role in helping to protect them from injury.
Before walking, you can stretch your foot and calf muscles by bending your foot at the toe and pressing it against a wall, or use a towel to raise your toes up as if standing on tip toes. Sit on the floor and stretch your legs out in front and flex your toes up towards your body and then pointed away from your body to stretch your calf muscles and avoid shin injuries.
If you will take the extra ten minutes before exercise and ten minutes afterwards for stretching you will get better results in both weight loss and fitness. You will even notice the benefits in every day tasks like picking up a child, reaching for a top shelf, pulling or pushing carts, vacuums, or chairs. Even if you steer clear of manual tasks, you’ll love the way a flexible body improves your overall appearance.
With all these attributes, you’ll definitely want to set aside a little time for this important part of a healthy lifestyle.
~ Karen Ficarelli
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